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Improving Land and Water Management: Creating a Sustainable Food Future, Installment 4

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An examination of the role of four improved land and water management practices and the effect they could have on smallholder crop yields and livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa. We then provide a …

An examination of the role of four improved land and water management practices and the effect they could have on smallholder crop yields and livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa. We then provide a series of recommendations for how to scale up these practices.

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  • 1
  • First, the world needs to close the gap between the amount of food available today and the amount required in 2050. According to new WRI analysis, we’ll need to produce greater than 60 percent more food calories in 2050 than in 2006 if global demand continues on its current trajectory.
  • Second, the world needs agriculture to contribute to inclusive economic and social development. Although agriculture directly accounts for only 3 percent of global GDP, it employs about 28% of the world’s population..
  • Third, the world needs to reduce agriculture’s impact on the environment. For instance, agriculture was responsible for approximately 24 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2010. 38 percent of the world’s landmass outside Antarctica is used to grow food. And agriculture accounts for about 70 percent of all the freshwater withdrawn from rivers, lakes, and aquifers.

    Of course, there are ways to meet any one of these needs in isolation. For instance, the world might be able to close the food gap by 2050 by converting vast areas of its remaining forests into crops and grazing lands. But doing so would worsen agriculture’s impact on climate, ecosystems, and long-term economic development.

    Rather, to achieve the great balancing act, the world needs to meet all three needs at the same time.

    There is no silver bullet to accomplishing the great balancing act. But there are potential solutions.
  • Note: Map is based on the average of three climate scenarios, which is equivalent to approximately 3 degree C increase by 2050
    Another factor impacting food production will be climate change.

    Climate change will likely affect agricultural yields in many regions due to changes in precipitation patterns, droughts and floods, extreme weather events, and other climatic factors. While some benefits are expected as a result of land at high latitudes becoming suitable for cultivation, the net impacts are expected to be negative.

    In particular, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has projected that crop productivity would increase slightly at mid-to high-latitudes for mean temperature increases of up to 1-3°C (depending on the crop) (Easterling et al., 2007). However, at lower latitudes, especially in the seasonally dry and tropical regions, crop productivity is projected to decrease as a result of even small local temperature increases (1-2°C). IPCC modeling indicates that an increased frequency of crop losses due to extreme climate events may overcome any positive effects of moderate temperature increases in temperate regions (Easterling et al., 2007).

    Further warming would have increasingly negative impact in all regions.

    Map is based on the average of 3 climate scenarios, which is equivalent to approximately 3 degree C increase by 2050.
  • Note: Source: WRI Aqueduct 2012; Water stress data from The Coca-Cola Company. Cropped areas from Ramankutty et al. 2008. “Farming the planet: 1. Geographic distribution of global agricultural lands in the year 2000”.
  • Another factor impacting food production will be climate change.

    Climate change will likely affect agricultural yields in many regions due to changes in precipitation patterns, droughts and floods, extreme weather events, and other climatic factors. While some benefits are expected as a result of land at high latitudes becoming suitable for cultivation, the net impacts are expected to be negative.

    In particular, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has projected that crop productivity would increase slightly at mid-to high-latitudes for mean temperature increases of up to 1-3°C (depending on the crop) (Easterling et al., 2007). However, at lower latitudes, especially in the seasonally dry and tropical regions, crop productivity is projected to decrease as a result of even small local temperature increases (1-2°C). IPCC modeling indicates that an increased frequency of crop losses due to extreme climate events may overcome any positive effects of moderate temperature increases in temperate regions (Easterling et al., 2007).

    Further warming would have increasingly negative impact in all regions.

    Note: Map is based on the average of 3 climate scenarios, which is equivalent to approximately 3 degree C increase by 2050.


  • Another factor impacting food production will be climate change.

    Climate change will likely affect agricultural yields in many regions due to changes in precipitation patterns, droughts and floods, extreme weather events, and other climatic factors. While some benefits are expected as a result of land at high latitudes becoming suitable for cultivation, the net impacts are expected to be negative.

    In particular, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has projected that crop productivity would increase slightly at mid-to high-latitudes for mean temperature increases of up to 1-3°C (depending on the crop) (Easterling et al., 2007). However, at lower latitudes, especially in the seasonally dry and tropical regions, crop productivity is projected to decrease as a result of even small local temperature increases (1-2°C). IPCC modeling indicates that an increased frequency of crop losses due to extreme climate events may overcome any positive effects of moderate temperature increases in temperate regions (Easterling et al., 2007).

    Further warming would have increasingly negative impact in all regions.

    Note: Map is based on the average of 3 climate scenarios, which is equivalent to approximately 3 degree C increase by 2050.


  • In WRI’s new working paper, The Great Balancing Act, we propose a “menu” of these potential solutions. Some menu items reduce projected growth in consumption, such as decreasing food loss and waste. Other menu items increase food production, such as restoring degraded lands back into agricultural productivity.

    No item on the menu can achieve a sustainable food future by itself, and the relevance of items will vary between countries and food chains. But the combination of solutions should help feed the world while advancing economic development and reducing pressure on the environment.
     
  • Note: Data reflects food for direct human consumption. It excludes food crops grown for animal feed and biofuels. “Available kcal needed” is the estimated global average daily energy requirement (ADER) per person for 2050 plus the food loss and waste associated with it. “Consumed kcal needed” is the estimated global ADER for 2050—what is ultimately consumed.
  • Two years ago, the FAO released a report in which they found that by weight, about 32% of the world’s food supply is lost or wasted. This was measured by weight, however, which suggests that a pound of beef is the same as a pound of apples is the same as a pound of wheat. We decided to convert their weight figure into calories and found that 24% of the world’s food supply is being lost or wasted; a smaller figure but still quite substantial.
  • On a per capita basis, however, North America and Oceania stand out from other regions, with about 1,500 kcal per person per day lost or wasted from farm to fork. Europe and Industrialized Asia have similar levels of per capita loss and waste, and then less developed countries tend to have lower overall levels.
  • Amplify the voice of champions for improved land and water management
    Leverage technology to increase direct communication with farmers (e.g., radio, press, market info for mobile phones)
    Increase support for well-informed dialogue and national level consultations
    Improve quantitative understanding of the costs and benefits of improved land and water management practices
  • Reform outdated and counterproductive forestry legislation
    Establish more secure land tenure and management rights over trees and shrubs in agricultural landscapes
    Support the emergence and strengthening of local institutions to improve local natural resource governance
    Reassess support of large subsidies for mineral fertilizers; increase support for balanced approaches combining outreach, research, and extension for improved land and water management practices
    Accelerate and reinforce the mainstreaming of improved land and water management practices in ag development, food security, and climate change adaptation programs
  • Organize training sessions to familiarize local communities with enabling legislation for local conventions
    Facilitate the organization and empowerment of local resource management committees
  • Transcript

    • 1. October 2013 Craig Hanson, Steward, World Resources Report Photo Source: Chris Reij IMPROVING LAND AND WATER MANAGEMENT Installment 4 of “Creating a Sustainable Food Future”
    • 2. Source: Henao and Baanante, 2006. Several regions in Africa have relatively high rates of nutrient depletion on agricultural lands Annual nutrient depletion, kg NPK/ha/year
    • 3. Source: Hengl and Reuter, 2009. Soils in Africa are relatively low in organic carbon Topsoil organic carbon, percent mass fraction
    • 4. Sub-Saharan Africa uses much less fertilizer per hectare than any other region Kilograms per hectare Source: IFDC, 2013.
    • 5. Cereal yields in Sub-Saharan Africa are much lower than other regions Metric tons per hectare Source: Derived from FAO data; graph by IFDC.
    • 6. From 1961–2001, food production increases in Sub-Saharan Africa were achieved mainly by expanding the area of cropland Source: Henao and Baanante, 2006. Note: Baseline data in 1961 is given the value of 100; subsequent data for yield and area are in units of percent change relative to 1961.
    • 7. Source: Shitumbanuma, 2012. Maize yields in Zambia are higher under Faidherbia trees Kilograms per hectare Note: Average maize grain yields from trial sites under and outside canopies of mature Faidherbia albida trees across regions in Zambia.
    • 8. Conservation agriculture is widely used in many continents, but not in Africa Source: Shitumbanuma, 2012.
    • 9. Conservation agriculture with intercropping of Faidherbia albida trees (agroforestry) in Malawi Source: Bunderson, 2012.
    • 10. Conservation agriculture increased maize yields in Malawi in 2011, and combining it with agroforestry (intercropping of Faidherbia trees) increased yields even further Metric tons per hectare Source: Bunderson, 2012.
    • 11. A combination of water harvesting practices increases grain yields more than one practice (Burkina Faso) Kilograms per hectare Source: Sawadogo, 2008. Note: These two groups of villages are located on the northern central plateau of Burkina Faso. “BAU” = business as usual
    • 12. Source: Mazvimavi et al., 2008. Water harvesting combined with conservation agriculture increases gross margins for farmers in Zimbabwe Gross margins, US$ per hectare Note: Data from nine districts in Zimbabwe, across rainfall zones.
    • 13. Source: Sawadogo, 2012. Micro-dosing further increases sorghum yields beyond other land and water management practices (Burkina Faso, 2009–11) Kilograms per hectare
    • 14. Source: IFDC, 2011. ISFM contributed to yield increases of three major crops for farmers in West Africa, 2006–10 Kilograms per hectare Note: No 2006 data was available for maize.
    • 15. Source: IFDC, 2011. Revenues increased significantly for farmers adopting ISFM in West Africa, 2006–10 US$ per hectare Note: No 2006 data was available or groundnuts. Data converted from CFA francs using a conversion rate of 1 CFA franc = .0021 US Dollar.
    • 16. Source: IFDC, 2012. Farmers in Central Africa benefited greatly from increased crop yields and revenues following the adoption of ISFM practices Annual benefits
    • 17. Integrated landscape approaches take account of the importance of ecosystem services in managing agricultural landscapes
    • 18. Success in scaling up improved land and water management requires attention to gender • Women are responsible for 80 percent of agricultural work • Labor inputs of women exceed those of men by 10-12 hours a week • 95 percent of external resources (seeds, tools) are channeled to men • Women often do not have the same rights and management authority as men • Add photo to illustrate importance of gender Source: De Sarker, 2011. Photo: Chris Reij.
    • 19. Source: WRI, 2013. Agroforestry and water harvesting could be scaled up on more than 300 million hectares in Sub-Saharan Africa
    • 20. Increase communication and outreach Photo Source: Chris Reij.
    • 21. Support institutional and policy reforms Photo Source: Reseau MARP Burkina.
    • 22. Support capacity building Photo Source: Chris Reij.
    • 23. Mainstream investing in improved land and water management Photo Source: Attari Boukar.
    • 24. For more information: WRI.org/WRR